Tuesday, Mar. 6, 2018

Senate Opening

Senate Opening

Mar 06 2018 10:00 AM

The Senate convened.  


Opening Remarks

Mar 06 2018 10:19 AM

Today -

  • The Senate will convene at 10:00 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, with the time until 11:00 a.m equally divided between the two leaders or their designees. 
  • At 11:00 a.m, the Senate will VOTE on cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act. 
  • Following disposition of the cloture motion, the Senate will VOTE on confirmation of Executive Calendar #536, Terry A. Doughty, of Louisiana, to be United States District Judge for the Western District of Louisiana.
  • Following disposition of the Doughty nomination, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2155.
  • The Senate will recess from 12:30 p.m to 2:15 p.m to accommodate the weekly policy lunches.
  • Note: all time during recess, adjournment, morning business, leader remarks, and the Doughty nomination will count post-cloture on the motion to proceed to S. 2155.


Senator McConnell: (10:10 a.m)

  • Spoke in tribute to Senator Thad Cochran.
    • "Senator Thad Cochran's retirement will mark a tenure marked by a steady, honorable leadership. From the day he arrived in this chamber, his focus has been squarely on serving the people of Mississippi with integrity. For nearly four decades, he did exactly that. And he earned the admiration and gratitude of countless friends and colleagues along the way."
  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "Community bank compliance costs have risen to an average of 24% of net income. This regulatory burden crowds out the capital that is available to American families and small business, especially in rural communities. According to researchers at the Harvard Kennedy School, community banks provide over 50% of all small business loans and nearly 80% of agricultural loans. In Kentucky, for example, there are more than 100 community banks and more than 20 credit unions. Many of them are the only financial institutions present in rural and underserved communities. But while Dodd-Frank supposedly took aim at too big to fail, in the first four years after it passed, the share of U.S deposits in small banks shrunk by nearly a quarter."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "In recent years, tight budgets have forced too many families to forgo investing for the future in order to cover today's expenses. Recent estimates suggest that two-thirds of Americans do not, do not contribute to a 401(k). A lack of retirement savings can seem like an abstract concept for young workers, but for some senior citizens, it becomes a harsh reality. While the poverty rate for Americans under 65 has decreased since 2015, it has increased among those 65 and older. Tax reform is already helping remedy a part of the problem. Many companies and small businesses alike have announced plans to reinvest tax reform savings in their employees' retirement accounts."

Cornyn, Schumer, Crapo, Brown- Correction

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 11:06 AM

Senator Cornyn: (10:21 a.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • ""The New York Times" has reported that there is a wage of optimism surging among job creators, and let me just footnote that the "New York Times" was certainly a skeptic as to what the impact of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act would be, but they now report a wave of optimism surging among job creators. Since January, 2017, 2.3 million jobs have been added in the United States, and unemployment is at a 17-year low. U.S weekly jobless claims are at their lowest since 1969. Many people who thought that stagnant growth and flat wages were the new normal have been surprised, and maybe a better word is gratified to see what the impact of this policy has been on their take-home pay, on their confidence in their future, on investments in new jobs."
  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "For many of the aftereffects of the shooting last Monday at Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida still resonate. I know that's true for all of us, and the pain and frustration aren't going away. I always worry, though, after one of these events occurs that given the relentless carpet bombing of news and other information this we all sustain here in Washington in the nation's capital that it's too easy to begin to lose sight of our objective to make things different and to improve outcomes when it comes to terrible events like this. And sometimes we get distracted and we move on to other topics."


Senator Schumer: (10:42 a.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Mr. President, when the Republican majority forced through a $1.5 trillion tax cut to big corporations and the richest Americans, a big question was what will those companies do with the money? Roughly $1 trillion of that $1.5 trillion was aimed at the biggest corporations. Republicans promised that corporations would reinvest the savings from the tax bill, stimulating jobs and economic growth. We Democrats warned that corporations would do what's best for themselves, not necessarily what's best for workers or the economy. There's often a dichotomy, as we've learned, over the years."
  • Spoke on net neutrality.
    • "Big companies could pay to get faster internet service while start-ups, small businesses, and average Americans are left in the slow lane. High demand websites that offer streaming television, sports and movies could be slower if you don't pay up. Public schools who don't pay for premium service could be put at a significant disadvantage. In rural America where there's less competition, I.S.P's will wield even greater power to raise the price on consumers without fear of losing business. An internet without net neutrality is a tale of two internets where the best internet goes to the highest bidder, those with the money, and everyone else loses. Democrats want to keep the internet free and open, like our highways."


Senator Crapo: (10:51 a.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "Again, I encourage all of my colleagues to support bringing this bill forward to the floor for full debate and vote. First, let me thank each of the cosponsors of this bill, including the many members of the banking committee for their interest and involvement in the many discussions, hearings, and personal negotiations and conversation, we've had to get to this point. Originally introduced by ten Republicans and ten Democrat, this package of commonsense reforms now has 26 Senate cosponsors, including 16 members of the Banking Committee."


Senator Brown: (10:56 a.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "There's a real effort on the part of a lot of us to come to terms - to come to agreement, particularly aimed at those banks, the community banks and the regional banks. My state, Senator Portman's and my state are the only ones in the country that have three regional banks, the banks that will be - that are 50, 100, $150 billion, Huntington, key corp. And fifth third. Unfortunately, this bill started off that way but it's gotten to be something else. The something else is that this bill seems to me and many of us more concerned with the largest banks in Wall Street than it does with community banks. And there are lots of things that can come out of this bill."

Kennedy, Thune

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 12:44 PM

Senator Kennedy: (12:21 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "That means that at this point in time in at least 15 communities in my state, folks do not have access to a bank or to a credit union. For Louisianans living in these banking deserts, getting a check or a savings account may be little more than a pipe dream. Now, I'm not suggesting to you, Mr. President, that everything in Dodd-Frank was misguided. I think we had a handful of institutions that precipitated in part the meltdown in 2008, and Dodd-Frank regulates those institutions, but not every institution is a financial institution, particularly a community bank and a small credit union should be lumped in with the larger financial institutions."


Senator Thune: (12:36 p.m)

  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Carters is giving bonuses, boasting retirement funds, tax reform positive for farmers, ranchers, express scripts, giving employees bonuses following impact from tax law, Franklin savings bank to give employees a $1,000 bonus, cites tax reform, sprouts will give tax reform bonuses, north Carolina blue cross, tax cut will hold down rate increases, workers to gets $1,000 bonuses. Hormel is to give employees stocks. I could go on. These are headlines that are highlighting the ways in which tax reform is benefiting American workers. Businesses large and small are seeing the benefits of tax reform and they are passing them on."

Brown, Daines, Crapo

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 02:53 PM

Senator Brown: (2:22 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "City officials in Cleveland began to hear reports that predatory home refinances were being pushed on borrowers regardless of whether they could afford to repay the loan. You know, those refinances mean fees to bankers. Foreclosures began to shoot up in Cuyahoga County. 59 - listen to this. 5,900 filings a year in 2000 foreclosures. By 2007, 15,000. 5,900 in 2000 in Cuyahoga County. 15,000 by 2007. My wife and I live in zip code 44105 which includes Slavic, Cleveland. That zip code had more foreclosures than any zip code in the United States of America. The city of Cleveland went to the fed and asked it to use its authority to restrain subprime lending. The fed did nothing."


Senator Daines: (2:44 p.m)

  • Spoke on natural resources.
    • "You know what this means? You can't construct a new road. And that would be kept after the release of the W.S.A's. This has been a bottom-up approach from the get-go. Here's the bottom line. Montana's public lands are meant for everyone. They're meant for people who like to recreate in many different ways. For those who love to hike, of course, but also folks who enjoy recreaing with mountain bikes, hunting, snowmobiling, riding ATVs. And creating access to our public lands is critical to Montana's jobs and our $7 billion outdoor economy. In fact, communities in Montana understand this is an important local economic driver that will strengthen local economies, that depend on outdoor jobs. In fact, just recently, the bureau of economic analysis agrees."


Senator Crapo: (2:50 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "These institutions hold a competitive advantage over their larger counterparts operating with a relationship-based knowledge of their customers and understanding of their unique needs. But they are decidedly disadvantaged when it comes to keeping up with the ever increasing compliance and examiner demands coming out of Washington. Our bill offers much needed reforms that will reduce unless burdens on smaller financial institutions so that they can use more of their capital serving customers rather than complying with federal regulations that were never intended for them. It also adds protections for consumers, veterans, senior citizens, and others against fraud and identity theft as well as those falling on hard financial times. This bill is the product of robust bipartisan negotiation which was years in the making."

Heitkamp, Perdue, Corker, Tester

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 03:30 PM

Senator Heitkamp: (2:52 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "When I was going around the state in 2012 talking to folks who had opinions about the federal government, one of the things I frequently heard was from my small credit unions and my independent community bankers and my bankers because the north Dakota independent community bankers frequently tend to be members of the North Dakota banking association. They said one thing to me that really resonated. And that was how is it that Dodd-Frank which was supposed to deal with the largest lenders in this country, the largest institutions of this country, how is it that you have this Dodd-Frank bill that was supposed to stop too big to fail and it has become too small to succeed?"


Senator Perdue: (3:02 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "These onerous rules subjected the same regulations to these small lenders as are now being affected on the may - major four or five banks. Compliance costs for community banks have risen by 4% or 5%. I think it's much higher than that. I met with a regional bank from Georgia. Their compliance costs have gone up $400 million because of Dodd-Frank. That's money that could be in the community in the form of loans. And yet, it's now coming in the form of higher compliance costs. Some of those are fines, by the way, Mr. President, coming to the federal government up here. That's another topic for another day that we don't address in this bill."


Senator Corker: (3:12 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "So we've ended up in a situation now where our community banks and credit unions that serve our communities, that cause economic growth to occur now have these large back office operations that are spread over a smaller asset base which has made them noncompetitive and made it very difficult for them to to do the jobs that we all cherish that they do back home which is help to grow those economies. So this bill is focused on them."


Senator Tester: (3:15 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "It helps small businesses and startups to secure the funding they need to grow their businesses and create more jobs and it protects the small banks that serve as a corner stone of rural communities from being eaten alive by the big boys on Wall Street. This bill strengthens the rights of consumers and provides consumers with unlimited freezings. It helps tenants if a landlord is foreclosed on. It helps veteran, active duty service members, seniors, and children. Over the course of this debate, there are going to be some folks who come to this floor and ped - pedal misinformation. Let me be clear what this bill does not do. It does not roll back the regulations on Wall Street's fat cats."

Moran, Donnelly, Warner

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 04:01 PM

Senator Moran: (3:27 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "If we are successful in passing this legislation in the House, accepting it in its form acceptable to the Senate, signed by the president, this legislation will make a significant and tremendous difference in America, and especially on Main Street, in farms, and in small businesses across the country. A significant component of what I'm about in my work in the United States senate is to try to make certain that my colleagues from places that are not rural understand the rural nature of much of America and understand how we do business and how things get done. And as has been indicated by many of my colleagues in small town America nothing gets done without the support of your local financial institution."


Senator Donnelly: (3:40 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "I want to highlight another provision I authored on manufactured housing, which serves as a vital source of affordable housing, not only in Indiana, but across our country, particularly in rural and underserved communities. This effort provides a narrow exemption to allow consumers to receive general financing informing from a manufacturer while creating new disclosures which would prohibit conflicts of interest and prohibit retailers from their financial transactions. This legislation has broad bipartisan support. It maintains strong financial oversight and it adds new consumer protections."


Senator Warner: (3:48 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "He said that the regional banks will continue to be subject to the most important enhanced standards, meaningful, strong, and frequent stress tests. His words, not mine. He called himself a strong believer in stress testing. Let me again say so am I. Critically this bill, again, does not change the existing requirement for the fed to conduct annual stress tests on banks larger than $250 billion. I know I'm getting into a lot of details, but the details in banking regulations are important, and again, unfortunately, some of my colleagues in opposition to the bill I don't think are setting out what this bill truly does and doesn't do. Let me put out another point, again on stress test."

Sanders, Alexander, Warren, Flake

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 05:11 PM

Senator Sanders: (4:02 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "And today my Republican colleagues along with some Democrats tell us that what we should be doing right now is spending our time on deregulating some of the largest banks in America. How absurd is that? Not gun violence, not the DACA crisis, not the high cost of prescription drugs, not 30 million people without health insurance, but deregulating some of the largest banks in America. Mr. President, are our memories so short that we have learned nothing from the 2008 Wall Street crash?"


Senator Alexander: (4:02 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "As the authorities try to get to the bottom of what will exactly what happened in this shooting, many of us in local, state, and federal government have been looking at what can be done to help keep students safe at school. We can't stand still and do nothing while our children are being killed. I'm the chairman of the senate education and health committee and sponsor with Senator Murray of the Every Student Succeeds Act of 2015. Which reauthorized the law overseeing kindergarten, elementary, and secondary education. I also sponsored with Senator Murray the 21st Century Cures Act of 2016, which made the first major mental health reforms in a decade, focusing the federal government's efforts on early intervention."


Senator Warren: (4:24 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "It was written by senators in back rooms and jammed through the Banking Committee where its authors voted down every single amendment, every single idea to make the bill even one smidge better or to protect consumers just one tiny bit more. They voted against every amendment even if they agreed with it because Republicans and Democrats have locked arms to do the bidding of the big banks. There's a lot of dangerous stuff in this bill and today I want to focus on the harm it will do to America's consumers. But I'll start with what's not in the bill, because what's not in the bill should make Congress ashamed."


Senator Flake: (4:46 p.m)

  • Spoke on DACA.
    • "Likewise, those of us from border states like Arizona know that law enforcement officers tasked with patrolling the border and protecting our neighborhoods, cannot just give up and go home. We have neighbors and family members who simply shrug off failure and accept the status quo when it comes to securing the border. That's why I've introduced legislation to extend DACA protection for three years and provide three years of increased border funding and funding for border security. I'm the first to admit this is far from a perfect solution, but it does provide a temporary fix to these crucial problems. It begins the process of improving border security and it ensures DACA recipients will not lose protections and be left to face potential deportation."

Rubio, Whitehouse, Blumenthal, Durbin

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 06:01 PM

Senator Rubio: (5:03 p.m)

  • Spoke on gun control.
    • "There were clear signs. It's one of the things you see in every single one of these events. It isn't like from one moment to the next they woke up one morning in a bad mood and do -- these sorts of things. They had been showing signs for a significant period of time in case after case after case. If we know this, should we not then create systems in this country to identify people before they act and stop them? On that point I believe there is broad consensus and on that point is I think where we should start. Let's act. If there's a law we can pass or a program we can put in place to prevent one of these things from happening, let's do it. "


Senator Whitehouse: (5:20 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "You would think with something like this that we have an election that has been attacked by a hostile foreign country, you'd think that would be the kind of thing that would bring our country together, that would get the president's attention. He swore an oath to protect and defend the constitution. The last I heard, the elections are a part of our constitution. And yet, nothing. Crickets. Where's the proposal? Where are the congressional hearings on our proposals? Where are the markups? Where are the bills? We're seeing an extraordinary lack of interest and initiative on something about which we have been very, very forcefully warned."


Senator Blumenthal: (5:36 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "That's because this doing absolutely nothing to make Russia pay a price, and that is the testimony, in effect, from representatives of the intelligence community, including most recently today, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, and General Robert Ashley. When I asked what was being done to deter counter or retaliate against the Russians, director coats said, in effect, it is everyone's responsibility, which means, in effect, it is no one's responsibility that it was -- responsibility, that it was the whole of government responding, which means no single agency, and there is no plan and no action under way. There is, at most, perhaps some kind of study of what should be done."


Senator Durbin: (5:50 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "Mr. President, I was home over the week in Springfield, Illinois, of course the state capital, and ransom into a fella who works for the state board of elections. We talked for a few minutes about the experience we had in our state in the last election cycle when the Russians hacked into the computer network of the Illinois state board of elections. We were the only state of those that were hacked to come forward and identify the culprit. It was Russia. We also came forward and notified hundreds of thousands of our voters that their identity, at least in terms of the state election agency is concerned, had been compromised by the Russians."

Menendez, Wyden, Klobuchar, Nelson

Motion to Proceed to the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (S. 2155)

Mar 06 2018 07:01 PM

Senator Menendez: (6:00 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "Last week, he changed his positions on gun safety so many times in 24 hours, it could make your head spin. A few weeks before that, he rejected a bipartisan deal to protect dreamers that met the very specifications he outlined to my colleagues and me just days before. And throughout the past year, the president's remarks with respect to NATO's Article V, the alliance's bedrock principle which guarantees mutual defense, have been wholly inconsistent. But there is one thing that president trump has shown rock-solid consistency on since taking office, and that is his shameful embrace of Russian president Vladimir Putin and his refusal to protect American democratic institutions."


Senator Wyden: (6:17 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "So I believe it is a great mistake for the executive branch, particularly Treasury Secretary Mnuchin and as ranking Democrat on the Finance Committee, we have jurisdiction over his agency, and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to just punt on these issues that are central to the question tonight that Senator Whitehouse deserves great credit in terms of pursuing, which is holding the president accountable. Now the public in particular deserves the full story about financial entanglements between Russia and the president and his associates. Obviously the American people are constantly reading stories in the press about these connections."


Senator Klobuchar: (6:29 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "He believed the people, the citizens of his country, are the ones should make the decisions about the elections, that they should be able to make their own opinions, not influenced by foreign countries acting like they are people in this country. It is you, Mr. President that made the statement that I have quoted so many times, that in the last election it was one candidate and one party and in the next election it could be the other candidate in the other party. We do not come here in a partisan way. We come here because the clock is ticking. Today marks an important day in the 2018 election cycle."


Senator Nelson: (6:38 p.m)

  • Spoke on Russian election interference.
    • "It spread divisive consent and it even organized political rallies in the U.S with the help of unwitting Americans all backed by one of Putin's cronies through a so-called catering company. This indictment tells a pretty remarkable and alarming story. And if you're still not sure just what this was all about, just read the front, the internet research agency's own words. Quote, information warfare against the United States of America. End of quote. That says it call. I know there's been a lot of discussion about Russian interference in our election, and there should be. We've got to get to the bottom of this. It's coming fast and furious and it's going to be happening in the elections of this year."

Wrap Up (The Senate Stands Adjourned), Portman

Wrap Up

Mar 06 2018 07:09 PM

Tomorrow -

  • The Senate will convene at 9:30 a.m.
  • Following leader remarks, the Senate will resume consideration of the motion to proceed to S. 2155, the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act, post-cloture.


Senator Portman: (6:46 p.m)

  • Spoke on Dodd-Frank relief.
    • "They also are very involved in our communities. So these community banks, which are really the backbone of America's financial sector, are what this bill is primarily about. The bill on the floor this week makes it easier for them to extend credit, loans, and mortgages, and provide other products and services to working families in Ohio and around the country. The legislation does more than that, though. It also focuses on the regional banks in Ohio. These are banks that were not part of the financial crisis. They had nothing to do with it. But despite that, they have been required to live under the onerous, systematically important financial institution rules and regulations."
  • Spoke on tax reform.
    • "Another economic issue, Mr. President, I want to talk for a minute about the good news coming out of my state of Ohio with regard to the tax reform legislation. In just the past few weeks, I visited eight separate businesses across the state talking about this issue, asking them what's been the impact of the tax reform bill, what are you doing with your savings? Three of these I want to talk about tonight briefly."
  • Spoke on preventing sex trafficking.
    • "Last week, the House of Representatives actually offered the SESTA legislation as an amendment on the floor to a broader bill, and it passed by an overwhelming vote, over 300 votes. Just a couple days later, the White House expressed their support for this legislation. It is now the Senate's turn to act on this critically important issue. Leader McConnell here, the leadership in the Senate, again has made a commitment to me and my colleagues that we will hold a vote on this sex outrage legislation, the SESTA legislation in the next couple of weeks. We now have 67 senate cosponsors for SESTA. That's not typical around here."